Friday, June 08, 2012

Pendulum Swing

Pendulum Swing


On the wall there was an old pendulum clock that was not working.  No one touched it.  Somehow it was related to the memory of my late grandfather.  It had chimes, but of course no one heard them since the clock did not work.  One of my cousins convinced my grandmother to fix it.  My cousin had found someone that could do it.  A few weeks later the refurbished clock appeared.  We had to turn some nobs with a key, then hold the pendulum on one side and release it.  As the pendulum swung the hands of the clock moved.  You could hear the clicks.  Every hour it chimed.  No batteries were needed nor alternate current were needed.  As long as the pendulum swung the clock clicked and chimed at every hour.


A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely.  This swinging is called oscillation.  The pendulum oscillates trying to find its equilibrium.  However, it is as if it never finds it, because it keeps going side to side never stopping at the middle of its path.  This movement not only makes the clock work, but many find it to be illustrations to many events in life. 


Many compare some dynamics of society with a pendulum.  Society, in some issues, swings from one extreme to the other.  Society can move from very conservative to very liberal, but never quite finding that point where there is balance or equilibrium between the two.  It goes from one opposite side to the other; each generation choosing to be in one side.  What is wrong with one generation the next one over corrects.  And the cycle continues. 


When people ask why there is so much liberalism going on in our denomination, I answer that it is a backlash against all the legalism.  Legalism is a trap.  It is a description of the attitude if those who believe that their obedience to God will somehow cause Him to justify them in His sight.  It comes from a belief that unless you do well the Father will punish you.  A legalistic religion causes the individual to focus upon personal performance (and often the performance of others) rather than on the Gospel (namely the Cross).  Legalistic attitudes can lead to pride and arrogance on the part of those who are so blind that they actually deem themselves holy enough to be saved (at least more holy than those considered heathens).  Or just as bad, legalistic attitudes can lead to discouragement and despair for those who realize just how far they are from the divine standard.  This has been the unfortunate truth about our denomination for most of its history.  The focus has been keeping the law, especially the Sabbath – those who do not keep the Sabbath are not good Christians.  To that we need to add the health message. We they become vegetarians and tell meet eaters that they will not be saved.  Of course there were other requirements: no makeup, no earrings, skirts under the knees, etc.  Being a Christian became a drudge. 


The newer generations have grown tired of this attitude, and with the help of some converts from liberal churches have rebelled against legalism.  "God is love," they say.  He says, "Come as you are."  So, instead of making sure everyone in Church behaved in a certain way, they accept them as they are and let them be.  There are basically no standards.  "Who are we to judge?" They no longer sing hymns, they are boring, and no one can understand the words.  So, they have praise teams singing praise songs, and praise dancers on stage.  It is OK to make noise and move.  Sin and repentance are forbidden words. You see how this liberal outlook is nothing more than trying to be different from the legalists.  To coin another phrase, it is the other side of the spectrum. 


However, when we look deeper, these two approaches have a lot in common.  First, both are based on what and what not to do.  The focus is performance and behavior.  2nd, there is no change of heart in neither of them.  By, this I mean there is no real conviction of Sin and repentance.  3rd, church attendance is key for both views.  4th, both claim to have the Holy Spirit. 


There are other things they have in common.  Although there are differences on how they view the Holy Spirit - To the legalist the Holy Spirit is a school master keeping them in line by convicting them of Sin and to the liberal the Holy Spirit is master of emotions and feelings -  both negate the power and efficacy of the cross and the blood of Christ.  The transformation of character that only the Holy Spirit can bring is never the emphasis.  So, in the end both are proud of what and how they do things.  They are right and others are wrong, partially because they are not like the others.  Is there another option?  Is there are a way of having love and the Law?


Yes, there is what Jesus proposed to Nicodemus, "I say unto thee, except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).  Being born again implies a new beginning; which means that something came to an end.  Paul explains in Romans 6, that when Christ was crucified and buried we die and were buried with Him.  But, since we die with Him we were also resurrected with Him.  There is nothing good in the old man, only iniquity.  So, in Christ our old man is dead, and the one that lives is Jesus in us.  Paul says in Galatians 2:20,


Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.


By faith the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and we no longer follow the flesh, but the Spirit (Romans 8:9).  And, since the law is Spiritual, as long as we are in the Spirit we are keeping the law (Romans 7:14).  What about love?  The Holy Spirit who dwells in us "sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts" (Romans 5:5).  Love after all is a fulfilling of the law.  In the flesh we can only have the law or love (in the end we have neither), but with the Spirit we have both.  Which option would you like?

Raul Diaz